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Rehabilitation is key to the drugs challenge says IDS

In yesterday's Telegraph, drawing on the experience of Holland and Sweden, Iain Duncan Smith condemned the UK Drug Policy Commission's recommendation that the fight against drugs should focus on minimising its harmful side effects.

'Harm reduction' rather than 'harm avoidance' is now the prevailing ethos of Britain's drug policy establishment.  IDS attacks this policy in his article:

"This approach is not only defeatist, but dangerous. It is a policy which seems to believe that so long as an addict doesn't mug someone, kill them or rob their house, then that's fine. It is a policy that parks addicts on methadone, entrenching addiction and ensuring that many of their children follow suit. It fails to address the problems of drugs and alcohol in terms of breaking the cycle of addiction, or in terms of recovery – which is why a significantly higher percentage of Britons are addicts than is the case with any of our neighbours. Rehabilitation treatment has been marginalised, with only a tiny number of addicts helped to get off drugs. The problem is made worse by the authorities' failure to recognise that high levels of alcohol consumption among young people have a strong connection to the rise in the drugs culture."

He writes about Sweden where drug laws are properly policed and "expunging of the criminal record" follows participation in a rehabilitation programme.   

The Conservative Party is committed to a big switch of drug treatment programmes away from, for example, methadone substitution and so that more people are rehabilitated and become drug-free.

Tim Montgomerie

> Listen to IDS debate with the UK Drugs Policy Commission on Radio 4's Today

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